WATT’S Up?

Cafeteria Sorting: Kendall KIC at Hayhurst Elementary

As the founder of the parent-led Without a Trace Team (WATT) Kendall is a force to be reckoned with! Her relentless enthusiasm towards creating a more sustainable culture has made a huge impact at Hayhurst. To illustrate her objective of reducing cafeteria waste, she toted a week’s worth of plastic disposables to a PTA meeting, which spurred a vote by the PTA to buy metal utensils and paper straws. The team also obtained Oregon Green School status and looked at what could be done school-wide. This resulted in recycling bins in the classrooms and eliminating plastic water bottles in the teacher’s room by installing a water cooler. Kendall also set up an elaborate sorting system in the cafeteria but didn’t have enough parent volunteers to come in every day to supervise.

At this point Kendall was introduced to the Eco-School training and used the tools she was given to recruit more volunteers. She partnered with Helena in her training cohort to co-lead the team, and the PTA formalized a Sustainability Chair position to follow through on the goals outlined in the Green School certification.

They now have enough WATT members to assist in the cafeteria sorting system that includes silverware, plastic tubs, plastic bags, and paper bags. Students help rinse milk cartons and toss their fruit and vegetable scraps in a bucket. The custodian used to deliver these treats to the neighboring goats while any additional food went into the onsite compost bin, but now the school has joined the district’s food collection program. The rest of the recyclables that weren’t collected by the hauler, Kendall picked up and separated after school for delivery to a recycling depot.

There was still the huge issue of styrofoam trays to tackle. She joined the Eco-School Committee on cafeteria waste and along with others secured a grant for durable trays in all Portland elementary schools. An all too common roadblock to using these trays is inadequate dishwashers and labor to wash them. Not accepting “no” for an answer, Kendall pushed to get their dishwasher approved, and now Hayhurst Elementary is using washable trays.

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